Thursday, December 29, 2005

Scala Nordic AS Signs 3-Year Exclusive Agreement with NorgesGruppen

From this press release:

Scala Nordic AS announces signing a 3-year exclusive agreement with NorgesGruppen for delivery of the Scala InfoChannel® digital signage software platform to the NorgesGruppen group in Norway.

NorgesGruppen is Norway’s largest trading enterprise. Its core business is grocery retailing and wholesaling. Through its chains, the group holds 34.8% of the Norwegian grocery market. The agreement is estimated to have a potential value of NOK 12 mill. (USD 1.75 mill.) over three years.

NorgesGruppen will rollout its first in-store digital signage network in its MIX chain. MIX contains 950 stores/kiosks with 100 of the MIX stores implementing two Digital Signage channels per store and the remainder implementing one channel. Due to the unique dynamic, real-time, rendering at “the point of playback” of Scala’s InfoChannel platform the content displayed at each store can be dynamically tailored to the local requirements of each store. It is anticipated that over the period of the agreement NorgesGruppen will deploy Scala’s digital signage solution in over 2000 locations.

The goal of the network is to improve the communication between the store and its customers by combining brand advertising with in-store customer information to enhance the customer shopping experience.
I don't really have much to add here, but you can read the rest of the press release at the above link.

Digital signage firm Limelight renames itself Impart

According to aka and others:

Limelight Media Group yesterday said it was renaming itself Impart Media Group in order “to capitalize on the name recognition and goodwill established since 1984 by its wholly-owned subsidiary, Impart, Inc.”.

In effect, the company appears to believe that the Impart brand is stronger than the Limelight one; Impart has had more than 2400 clients in its two decades of existence.

They also upped the ante with a reverse stock split, completing the shell-merger + ailing company acquisition + reverse split trifecta. Limelight was originally a digitial signage software firm, but later got into the business of building and owning networks. Given the cost of deploying a digital signage network nowadays, the reverse split was likely done to make them a more palatable option for institutional investors.

Monday, December 19, 2005

VM+SD releases In-Store Digital Media Survey

VM+SD has released a very interesting survey on the current buying habits of retailers with regard to digital signage networks and other implementations of in-store digital media. They conclude that,

The educational curve for [in-store digital signage] ISDM is speeding up. Convergent's Hutcheson said he's moved from introducing retailers to the benefits of ISDM to explaining how retailers can bring it into their stores.

"They get it now, but they're scared to death on how to do it," he says. "Digital signage is not just TV screens in a store. It's a content-managed network with highly customized content."

As the price of equipment continues to drop, and more retailers become comfortable using this latest technology in their store environments, the sky's the limit on how ISDM will alter the retail landscape.

The survey is very interesting, and highlights the need to feed the network with valuable content in order for it to deliver its maximum benefit.

Digital Signage and Brand-building article

Lyle Bunn of BTV+ fame brings us yet another whitepaper that attempts to illustrate the strong ties between digital signage and traditional merchandising and advertising techniques. Here's a brief clip:

Digital signage focuses on revenue acceleration in the retail environment using digital technology. So the management of organizations who make their money from consumer spending such as retailers, brand managers, ad agencies, marketing service providers, franchise and chain store operators, must look carefully at the competitive impact of digital signage. It will work for them or against them – it is not neutral.

The great rewards are realized when all disciplines gather around the opportunity together – including brands, creative, display owners, location providers, research, ad sales and technology providers. Because digital signage does something new, that is delivering dynamic images to the at-shopping experience, traditional approaches to creative, display, measurement and pricing are not adequate.

The communications areas of marketing display, staff training and business collaboration have generally developed independent of each other (from both organizational and objective standpoints). But the common characteristics of these business communications applications are that:

  • Content originates from a single location.
  • This content is delivered to many (all) locations.
  • The minimizing of cost related to the downlink is very important in containing on- going operating cost.
  • The communication is primarily display based, and can include an instructor or a spokesperson, as well as visuals such as video, static or animated graphics.
  • The content should compel a behavior. Whether training, education or merchandising, the intention is to motivate a behavior in the interest of the organization.
Of course that list holds true for any kind of merchandising technique, but given the enormous amount of content that a digital signage system can require to stay "fresh" for a number of years, it's of critical importance that vendors and media suppliers understand these key items before attempting to add content to the system.

OSU launches dining room digital signage

"Visual Graphic Systems, Inc. (VGS) together with Digital View, Inc., recently installed digital signage in several dining facilities at Ohio State University’s main campus in Columbus. The 20-inch LCD screens, which presently display a revolving series of campus images and information, will eventually incorporate daily menu specials, news feeds and even local sports highlights," according to this press release. Perhaps this deployment points to a new QSR-oriented digital signage offering from the two companies, as this quote suggests:

He adds that one of the most compelling selling points of these systems for foodservice providers and QSRs is their ability to reduce the perceived wait time for customers in line. Digital View provides the hardware and software to power foodservice ads on the campuses of Ryerson University in Toronto and the University of Toronto.
Or it could be that they added a key term like that so the article would be picked up by search engines. Who's to say :) But as anybody who has budgeted for a digital signage network can tell you, they can require a substantial investment, so it would be interesting to know what the ROI model is here, if any.

Digital signage coming to a cereal box near you

Seems like electronic ink is making a lot of headlines these days, though I have to admit that this latest incarnation of a jaunt down the cereal aisle sounds a little scary to me...

The cereal aisle at your local supermarket may soon resemble the Las Vegas strip. Electronics maker Siemens is readying a paper-thin electronic-display technology so cheap it could replace conventional labels on disposable packaging, from milk cartons to boxes of Cheerios.

In less than two years, Siemens says, the technology could transform consumer-goods packaging from the fixed, ink-printed images of today to a digital medium of flashing graphics and text that displays prices, special offers or alluring photos, all blinking on miniature flat screens.

Miniature displays in color could appear on consumer-goods packaging, including medicine vials, in 2007, with a resolution of 80 dpi, Gerlt said. Three or more images could flash consecutively, creating a crude animation effect or cycling through multiple messages. By 2008, the resolution could double, said Gerlt.

Wired's article on the matter is pretty interesting at highlighting potential commercial uses of the technology, but ends with some commentary from those who would prefer not to be bombarded with thousands of moving image ads as they shop for groceries.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Zandar powers church digital signage

I think this is a press release, but the formatting is throwing me off. But if this doesn't read like a press release, I don't know what does:

Zandar Technologies, a leading technology innovator and pioneer in MultiViewer systems, has been selected by a Baptist Church youth center in New Mexico, USA, to help creatively communicate its message to its congregation.
Located in the foyer of The Fuel Building, part of the church's new $2.2 million complex, the Zandar FusionPro 1RU MultiViewer is an integral component of a digital signage system, designed and installed by Positive Projection Systems which integrates with the church's larger display system comprising 6 projectors, 3 plasmas and 27 television screens. The content played on the system includes live camera feeds, recorded footage, advertisements, music and videos.
I believe that this installation is all under one roof, which begs the question of why a digital signage system was used instead of a more traditional video muxer/scaler. Now, if the church was simulcasting the same content out to multiple satellite locations, that would make more sense to me.

ScreenPlay & ICON Join the OOH! TV for digital signage

According to this press release on Yahoo!, "[m]ajor advertising industry players ScreenPlay, Inc. and ICON Advertising Solutions have teamed up with OOH! TV, executives at the mobile entertainment network announced today."

Both ICON and ScreenPlay have extensive experience in out-of-home advertising, and ScreenPlay maintains one of the largest DVD-driven digital signage networks around (not true networked digital signage, but around the time that they started, it wasn't exactly practical).

OOH seems to be a startup, and here's the info from the press:

OOH! TV is a global distribution and entertainment platform that enables virtually any content owner to gain exposure and provides useful and entertaining content to individuals outside of their home. The Company utilizes cutting edge technology such as broadband TV, cellular, Wi-Fi, and digital signage to create an affordable and open experience that is end user driven. Through the network's agreements to broadcast in public venues nationwide, any content owner can gain worldwide distribution and any end user can customize and carry their experience with them.

Friday, December 09, 2005

PowerhousePlus Deploys StarBak Digital Signage

From a press release I picked up at Yahoo!:

PowerhousePlus, the nation's premier membership community for homeowners, announced today that it has deployed the digital signage module of StarBak's Integrated Network Video (INV) solution in shopping mall kiosks deployed throughout southern California. StarBak Communications® is the leading provider of integrated network video solutions that allow organizations to simply and easily create, manage, deliver and display video-based applications over IP networks.
A while back StarBak (of Windows Media licensing fame) had something on their web page about a digital signage offering based on some kind of remote management tools for TV set-top boxes, but I can't find anything about it now... looks like the page has been pulled. Since anybody who has calculated a budget for a digital signage rollout can tell you it's quite expensive, using commodity hardware like set-top boxes has been one way that some companies have tried to lower the cost of such systems. Unfortunately, these devices are often underpowered and don't offer the flexibility of a dedicated software package running on a high-end PC.

RDM to provide a demo for NRF's X06 Store of the Future

I couldn't resist the acronym soup. I don't even know what X06 is... probably something to do with 2006 (which is almost here, you know). Anyway...

Real Digital Media (RDM) today announced that it has been selected by the National Retail Federation as a sponsor and the sole provider of networked digital signage to the X06 Store of the Future at the upcoming NRF Annual Conference and Expo. The National Retail Federation is the world's largest retail trade association, and their Retail Big Show is the largest annual showcase of the newest and most effective products and technologies to improve retail businesses. The show is hosted at the Jacob Javits Center in New York, January 15 – 18.
It must be very exciting to get selected as a sponsor. I think it goes something like this: "congratulations, you lucky guy. This year we've decided to take your money instead of somebody else's!"

Read the article here.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Dixon's in-store TV network works on ad sales

Media Week tells us that, "Dixons Group is opening up its in-store television network in 570 Currys and Dixons stores nationwide to third-party advertisers. Dublin-based Ads in Store, which manages the in-store TV network for the electronics and household appliances retailer, has appointed PH4 as the sales house. The deal comes in the same week as Dixons axed its in-store radio contract with Immedia Broadcasting and coincides with a wider review of all in-store media arrangements. Programming will be shown on all the screens on display in the stores and each 15 to 20-minute loop will include four minutes of separate commercial airtime, to be sold by sales house PH4."

PH4 apparently sells advertising on a number of European digital signage networks, so this shouldn't be too new for them. You can learn about them here.

Digital signage connects churchgoers

BroadcastEngineering is carrying this article about using digital signage to connect multiple branch churches together to share instructional and motivational content, e-learning content and even live sermons from popular or visiting ministers:

First launched at a high school in 2003, Duluth, GA-based Cross Pointe, the Church at Gwinnett Center, needed effective ways to communicate with its fast-growing congregation. With upwards of 1600 people attending its weekly services, Cross Pointe wanted to go beyond projecting video and PowerPoint slides on its large screens as it transformed a warehouse into its first house of worship. After attending a trade show, a church volunteer recommended augmenting the facility’s live video with live in-service graphics and more sophisticated programmed audio and visual content.
Apparently the system is also used as a digital bulletin board, displaying church notices and schedules when not in use showing other types of content. Interesting use of the technology.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Watchit Media, Inc. Reports Financial Results

Impressive gross margins from this narrowcasting network company, as reported in this press release at Business Wire:

For the three months ended September 30, 2005 the Company reported revenues of $379,000, a 49% growth over the same period in 2004. Gross profit for the same periods increased 10% to $154,000 from $140,000.

For the nine months ended September 30, 2005, the Company reported revenues of $1,243,000, a 120% growth over the same period in 2004. Gross profit for the nine month period increased 116% to $673,000. As a percentage of revenue, gross margin remained stable at approximately 55% for both nine month periods ending September 30, 2005 and 2004.

I love the transparency required of publicly-traded companies :)

New Wal-Mart TV research shows strong results

According to both MediaPost and, PRN and Wal-Mart have conducted some interesting research into the efficacy of the Wal-Mart TV in-store digital signage network. The research suggests that the screens are good for both the retailer and its suppliers, with ad effectiveness surpassing even broadcast and cable TV advertising with regard to consumer perception. As MediaPost notes in this article:

The research, conducted by the TNS Media and Entertainment Group, surveyed 5,630 people in 20 Wal-Mart locations installed with Wal-Mart TV, and found that commercials on the in-store network generated higher motivation levels than in-home television advertisements for comparable brands.
This article has some additional details, as well as a bit on methodology:
For the study, which took place over three waves between 28 March and 15 May 2005, TNS intercepted 5630 customers at the exits of 20 geographically-dispersed stores installed with Wal-Mart TV network's upgraded 'Next Generation' display configurations.
While the study focused on consumer perceptions and not sales lift, this sort of data can't be ignored given the size and scope of the study. But go read the results and judge for yourself :)

ActiveLight opens new East Coast distribution center

According to this press release reproduced by Infocomm:

ActiveLight, Inc., a leading value-added distributor of advanced displays, dynamic signage solutions and projection equipment, announced that it has acquired a new distribution facility in Pittsburgh and is now shipping products from the new location.

The new Pittsburgh facility enables more of ActiveLight's customers to receive their orders within two days at ground rates. ActiveLight's full line of plasma and LCD displays and display accessories will be housed at the new facility.

Apparently, it's less expensive to move big, fragile, heavy things like plasma screens and LCD panels over shorter distances and without having to put them on a plane :)